Trying New Recipies
Heart and Soul
Location: Hera's Quarters
With most of the R&D Department currently under construction, the elder Romulan caretaker of the Hera’s more exceptional youngsters, Jaeih Dox, had decided that it would be simpler to watch her grandchildren in Mona and Mnhei’sahe’s quarters for the day.
After all, Maica was watching Moira and Ensigns Gavarus and O’Dell were taking a personal day with their own miniature Minotaur babe, Minerva. Which meant that the former Tal’Shiar intel operative who had somehow found herself in charge of the Starships children, could focus on her own little angels.
Angels with stubby wings that didn’t work nearly as well as they thought they did.
Their mothers’ chambers had been doubled in size by absorbing the empty quarters to the left of their own, and that extra space was devoted to the children’s room and a basic play area for the three half Miradonian, half Romulan girls.
It was still between the morning and mid-day meals, and the stern faced Romulan woman in the blue R&D tunic was sitting in a plush chair in the corner of the colorfully decorated playroom with a PaDD in her hand as she read a story to the children.
Sitting on the thick, padded green matt on the deck, little Blue and green plumed Tala was on her belly looking up with the widest of copper eyes, enthralled in the story. Sitting behind her, golden feathered Amihan was rocking back and forth on her diapered rump, smiling. And fidgeting around the base of the chair, was red and black plumed Hlai’vana.
The most rambunctious of the three was, as usual, crawling about the room, trying to find a way to get into mischief, as Jaeih read an old Romulan fairy tale. “SOMETHING IN ROMULAN I’LL ADD IN LATER.”
As she usually did, Jaeih read to the children in the native languages of each story, and then translated them as she went. After all, she had taught her own daughter 4 languages from a young age, and her grandchildren would be no different. Knowledge was the most powerful advantage one could possess in a very dangerous universe, Jaeih reckoned.
Continuing to read, the observant former secret agent initially missed something that had entered the otherwise closed-off room. After a second, the sensitive, Romulan ears that all in the room possessed picked up on the lightest sound of what could only be described as… fluttering. “What in Areinnye?” Jaeih muttered, setting the PaDD down, trying to locate the source of the sound.
It cannot be an INSECT on a Starship? That would be absurd. Jaeih thought as she slowly looked around as the sound stopped very near to her head. But before she could even turn, she noticed a very different concern.
Next to the chair, little Hlai’vana had very quietly climbed up to the small bookshelf to her side and was intensely staring with a fixed gaze and a head that seemed to be mounted on a gyroscope. Glancing from the locked copper eyes of her granddaughter, to where they were looking, the salt and pepper haired Romulan spied what appeared to be a butterfly on her own shoulder.
Then, without hesitation, little Vana was a black and red streak through the air, letting out a fairly disconcerting screech as her sisters cheered her one from the ground. And seconds later, Jaeih had caught the tiny tot in her lap before she could fly any further from her grasp.
Curled up on her back, Vana looked up at her grandmother with excited eyes as, in her little mouth, was the fluttering creature, protesting in vain against the avian child’s grip.
“My, quite the little bird of prey you are, Vana. Now, give it to your Hu'nanov.” Jaeih said, holding out her hand and using the Romulan word for ‘Grandmother’ the surprisingly smart children could already say. With a smile and a nod, chubby little Vana opened her mouth and the butterfly flittered out before being snatched again in Jaeih’s hand. And as the Elder Romulan looked at it, her eyebrow cricked.
“Paper? Curious indeed.” She said, looking at the tiny, folded paper creature that confounded her. Then, as if by magic,the paper unfolded. And on it, in gilded gold letters, words in flowing Greek.
“I know this. This is… Greek. Ahhh, Hera.” Jaeih said as a slight smile creased her patrician facade.
The Greek lettering wiggled and shifted and after a few seconds molded themselves into Romulan lettering and words. "I request your and your grandchildren's aid in the research of Miradonian recipes. You are cordially invited to my residence to partake in and assist in furthering the quality of said baked goods. Please arrive at my residence at your earliest convenience. -Hera"
"Well... that was... decidedly different." Jaeih said as she set the note down with her PaDD and got up. "Well, my darlings... it appears we shall be going for a visit. Let us make a trip to the potty to make sure you are all clean and presentable and we shall visit your Aunt Hera."
Immediately, the three avian children began to smile and thrum happily.
Even with three feathery children, all waddling hand in hand down the corridor, security protocols needed to be observed on the mighty Starship. And with the presentation of the written summons at the door to Hera's chambers, the massive mountain of muscle that was Petty Officer Ethel Jablonski allowed the little group in.
Though, not before taking a moment to play with the precocious children for just a moment.
Stepping inside the small foyer that had been constructed at the head of the chamber to give Hera a bit more privacy, Jaeih held Hlai'vana's hand, who held Tala's, who held Amihan's. "Jolan'tru, Hera. It is I and the children, as requested."
"Please, come in, come in! Make yourselves at home!" called the matronly goddess from further inside the quarters as she slid a sheet of wax paper off of a cookie sheet, which was covered in tiny little cookies. "I've made several of the recipes I got from our recent trip and I was hoping to get your opinions on them."
Stepping inside, Jaeih looked down at the tree toddlers and simply raised her eyebrow at them as she spoke. "We are guests within this space, a’rheasu..."
Using the Romulan word for 'dear hearts' that they understood a degree better than Federation Standard, Jaeih continued. "We are all to be on our best behavior. Only then, shall you sample the treats your Aunt Hera is baking for you."
The children loved their 'Hu'nanov' dearly, but they were also quickly learning to obey her as well. Perhaps, to their parent's consternation, they obeyed Grandma a bit more then they obeyed their actual parents.
The children, hands freed, waddled curiously behind Jaeih. In truth, Jaeih's warning was likely not all that needed as their Miradonian eyes could easily see the brilliant, golden rainbow aura that the literal Goddess displayed at all times, and they tended to calm in her presence. "Thank you for your most intriguing invitation. It will do the children well to explore more of the ship, and I am sure they will enjoy your generous efforts."
Then, Jaeih handed the paper back to the Goddess with cookies. "This was a most curious means of relaying a message, but I was not sure if you needed it back."
"Not necessarily, however I find it is best not to leave such things laying around," Hera replied as she tucked it away and finished her preparations, settling the last batch into a six segmented ceramic bowl that showed scenery of birds and butterflies around the edges. "I tried several no-bake cookie recipes with non-Miradonian multigrain mixes and honey and I think I have several that should be pleasing to both their palettes and yours, if you're willing to try. The energies are at least similar to what I experienced on Miradon."
"Well then, I believe the children and myself would be most please to sample your wares." Jaeih said to the goddess she had initially been quite distant and cold to in their first meeting. The intel operative had learned that it was that same aura, invisible to her eyes, that had been acting upon her for months. As the goddess of Mothers and Family, Hera's energies were free to all that embodied their spirit and accepted their purpose, and the Romulan woman deeply wished to be a better mother to her daughter her on the Hera. As such, for months Jaeih had been unknowingly drinking deep of that very wellspring of maternal energy.
Once she had learned of it, she was initially dismayed. But the two women, so different in many ways, but the same in one key factor... that of being mothers seeking redemption... reconciled on Mona Gonadie's homeworld.
"Children." Jaeih said, looking down at the three sets of wide, blinking copper eyes who were literally thrumming with excitement at the prospect of the treats they could smell. "What do we say when we would like a treat."
Sticking their tiny hands out, all three said in chirping unison, "Aeher!"
Jaeih smiled lightly and raised a finger. "And in Federation standard?"
For a moment, all three paused, looking at each other, clearly in a silent conversation that their unique bond allowed them to have. Then, they looked back up with adorable determination, as Tala spoke first, her voice a tiny squeak. "P'EEES?"
Then Vana and Ami joined in, repeating the word. "P'EEEEES?"
"Ooooh you three are sooo adorable!" Hera gushed with motherly delight at the sight of the overwhelming cuteness before her, her aura flaring to life so much that it was likely that even Jaeih could even see it. She then knelt down with the six segmented bowl and smiled brightly at the cute chicks. "There's no way I could ever deny any of you treats. How about we start with the toasted sesame seed cookies first then?"
With that, the elderly matron pulled out five of the lightly toasted little balls and handed one to each of the chicks and one to Jaeih, keeping one for herself. "I made this one with mostly sesame seeds, clover honey, and ground oats."
While the observant Romulan did notice that Hera's aura had become visible on a spectrum that her own eyes could pick up, she made no mention of it, nor did she noticeably react in any way, feeling that to do so might be considered rude. Instead, she held up the offered treat and spoke to the children, who were eyeballing them, looking fit to burst as they awaited permission.
"VERY exceptional manners. Now, what do we say?" Jaeih said authoritatively. "In Rihan and Standard."
Going through the similar process, the three girls looked at each other, nodded and looked back at Hera with wide eyes and beaming smiles, their Romulan a little clearer than their Federation standard. "Khnai'ra... n' t'ank oo."
Then, without waiting for a reply, their natures as children took over and they began to excitedly devour their offered treats. At the same time, Jaeih took a bite of hers and pondered it a moment. "Sweet, but not overly so. Pleasant texture and a... hearty... flavor. Quite enjoyable. Thank you."
Popping the tiny cookie into her own mouth, Hera chewed delightfully. "You are all such polite children. Let me know when you're ready for another and Auntie Hera will serve you up another one, ok?" With a wink to Jaeih, she pointed at the next cookies. They're a multigrain, cocoa, and molasses mix that your grandparents on Miradon gave me the recipe for. I had to substitute everything in it... But I think I got it pretty close."
"Oh, exceedingly polite, except when they are swooping down on their grandmother's head like the little raptors they are." Jaeih said with a wry smile, looking down at the children who were happily munching away. As she did, Hlai'vana looked up and, with her mouth full, giggled for a bit.
"We may let these treats settle a moment. Let them savor them and appreciate your efforts." Jaeih said to Hera, finishing her own off. "We have not spoken much since returning to the ship from their birth. How have you been?"
Hera smiled brightly once more, almost glowing with visible light once again. "I would be remiss if I did not mention that it was one of the most refreshing and rejuvenating worlds I have ever been to. Miradon is a fascinating, energy rich world and I can see how their pantheon has survived the mortal age of enlightenment."
"Mona believes deeply." Jaeih said, speaking with the goddess casually and without the pretenses she often kept up with others on the ship. "I believe she was... embarrassed at first for that level of faith to be known here on the ship, even with Mnhei'sahe. But she has become more open with those feelings, for which I am glad."
"As much as these children are Romulan, they are also Miradonian, and they should know of their people's faiths. Of the Elements and their Moon Goddess. Of Al'thindor and the Trickster. It is a part of what makes them what they are." Jaeih said, an openness in her voice not often heard.
"Of that, we agree," the matronly goddess replied as she finished nibbling on her own cookie. "Whether we're thought of advanced beings with access to higher planes of existence or deities makes little difference. In the end, we've had a historical importance in the development and golden age in most, if not almost all, sentient races such as your own. It honors us to be remembered at the very least."
"And you can't deny who you are or your history," Hera added, waving a finger in the air.
The smile on Jaeih's face dimmed slightly as she considered her own checkered past, and the atrocities she had once committed as an agent of the Tal'Shiar. And while the scale was obviously different, she knew enough to know it was something else she shared with the woman once known as the Tyrant Goddess of Meroset.
"It is a poor way to learn. What is the human phrase? Those that forget history are destined to repeat it?" Jaeih said, looking to Hera, "Not something either of us would wish for, I would wager?"
Hera nodded solemnly, understanding the point and offering a bit of wisdom of her own. "There is another saying about a beast reverting to wild ways once you strip away training and civility. It's a bit crude but it may..."
Waddling over, chubby little Hlai'vana tugged gently on the edge of Hera's flowing robes as all three children smiled with large, soulful eyes, clearly trying to weaponize their cuteness in the pursuit of more treats.
"And these little ones have learned how to get Auntie Hera to spoil them, haven't they? Well, I may be obliged. I could never turn down such cuties, after all." With that, Hera reached into the bowl and pulled out five more cookies and handed them out - one to each of the chicks, one to Jaeih, and one for herself. "These are the multigrain and molasses cookies. You let me know if they're good, ok?"
Taking the offered cookies, this time the uniquely dubbed 'GoDox' triplets offered up their required thank yous without any prompting from Jaeih and dug into the treats ravenous. As they munched down on the sweets, they made a series of chirpy noises pointing out, once again, their avian nature.
"I will admit, that I do not have much of a... sweet tooth. So, I will express my appreciation for the blending of flavors and grains that provide quite a flavor variety in each treat." Jaeih said with a nod as she sampled the multigrain molasses cookie delicately. "Your efforts in this kitchen are not in vain."
"That said, no matter what we may have become at different points in our existences, neither of us began as beasts, my dear." Jaeih added, pointedly. "And as such, we may choose who we wish to be regardless of our circumstances."
"Perhaps as a mortal, you have that choice. However, as an Ambrosian I am still molded by those whose thoughts I reside within." Hera spoke softly, almost as if she were revealing one of her biggest secrets as she nibbled on her cookie. "Ah, but once you remove the trappings of civilization and place any person in the cruel realities of base nature, one must do what one must to survive, no? I believe that is what the saying is meant to imply."
As the children finished their treats, they began to play at the feel of the two women, giggling and chirping happily. Realizing the Hera had just made a fairly substantial admission, the Romulan matron raised a brow and nodded. It was an expression that truly reminded anyone that knows Mnhei'sahe just how much the mother and daughter truly had in common.
"I would speak to Commander Paris on that concept, as I believe if there is a better example of one who can maintain their moral center under almost any circumstances, it would be her." Jaeih said with what could almost be the hint of admiration in her voice.
"As for what it means to be Ambrosian, I obviously cannot say that I thoroughly understand. There is much to your unique nature that I am admittedly ignorant of. But I am also not closed off to a apt metaphor." Jaeih said with the unguarded smile she shared with very few other individuals. "And metaphorically, you of all beings know that I am who I am right now, in large part because of who I surround myself with. Their influence has made me more than I could have been otherwise."
"So, as long as that choice is mine, I choose to be where I can be the woman I wish to." The observant Romulan noted. "For me, that is with Mnhei'sahe, Mona, these children, and you. I have no illusions that your aspect has influenced me for the better. For you, for all of us, it is quite clear that it is your bond with Commander Paris."
"So, you should be quite safe in being who you are for a good while, because as we are both abundantly aware... that woman is incapable of giving up. She will drag you wherever she goes." Jaeih concluded with a legitimately warm, though wry, smile.
The matronly goddess couldn't help but respond with a motherly and warm smile. "You are so very right. She has one of the strongest wills I have ever known. With her around, I can be my best self and I can offer up my aura to those around me so that they too may be their best."
"And the choice of continuing to do so is entirely mine. Just as continuing my hobby of baking." With a wink, the elder woman pointed out the bowl of tiny cookies. "After all, that's something a mother would do, isn't it? create delicious treats for children?"
"As an Ambrosian, our personalities may change based on those around us... But we still have our own goals, hopes and dreams. Like Hades being a submissive to his wife Persephone, or Demeter's insistence upon serving nothing but that crunchy vegan whole grain nonsense to her family and driving Persephone to the underworld just to get away from her..."
Hera sighed heavily, her hands on her knees. "I suppose just being able to speak of such things calmly, knowing that Persephone is the fruit of my former husband's indiscretions is a sign of how much Rita has changed me. Along with that, I am now here to enjoy the finer joys of life with you and these children now. One of the greatest things in life are a child's peals of laughter."
"Even the delightful laughter of that little Minotaur I've seen you smile at." Jaieh said with a wry grin, mentioning the adopted daughter of Ensign's Gavarus and O'Dell that was also a child of Zeus, showing that the Romulan woman had clearly done her research on not only Hera's history with the ship that bore her name, but also the mythological history of her pantheon. "You deserve your joy, and the pride you take in it."
Hera couldn't help but grin peacefully at the thought of the little minotaur babe. "You know, when I granted Rita that boon I never expected her to say what she did. In essence, she granted me a boon - the freedom to all but ignore the majority of my Ambrosian nature and become the very best goddess that I can be. No more Olympian voice, no more mortal retribution, no more uncalled for vengeance upon my ex-husband's... Well... No more negativity in general."
"And you know what? It's a bit scary. I haven't had this much freedom to be myself since I was less than a hundred years old." The matronly goddess waggled her finger. "And back then, the titans still roamed the galaxy, the Klingon gods pulled my hair at camp, and I had no idea who I really was. So who am I now?"
"I'm finding that out a bit more every day."